A group of hourly employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga assembly plant filed a petition Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an election to form a union affiliated with the UAW that would potentially cover more than 1,700 hourly employees at the plant.
According to the filing, the potential union would cover "all full-time and regular part-time production and maintenance employees" at the plant, including all production and skilled team members and leaders. The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported the filing, and said the union seeks to hold the election in late April.
“Why are Chattanooga workers treated any differently than other VW workers in the world?” Steve Cochran, president of UAW Local 42 in Chattanooga, said in a statement released by the UAW. “Why are Chattanooga workers treated differently than even other auto assembly workers at plants like GM Spring Hill?”
In 2014, about 53 percent of workers in the plant voted against union representation, following weeks of campaigning by the UAW as well as conservative activist groups and politicians. In 2016, the NLRB ordered the German automaker to begin bargaining with the UAW after skilled-trades workers in the plant voted 104-48 in December 2015 to join the UAW.
A spokesman for Volkswagen Group of America said the automaker's North American headquarters has seen the petition, but is not commenting "at this point."
The UAW has not directly organized a foreign-owned auto assembly plant since the union won the right to represent workers at VW's former plant in southwestern Pennsylvania in the late 1970s. The plant closed in 1988. Other plants, such as the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Ill., recognized the union through other agreements.
Cochran added in the statement: “This isn’t about politicians. It’s not about outsiders. It’s about Chattanooga workers. We deserve the same rights as Spring Hill workers and every other VW worker in the world."
Philip Nussel and Reuters contributed to this report.